Will this (movie) simply be a remake of Let It Be, using the original title of the album, with everything McCartney objected to removed? – Random Internet commenter
“John walked into the room one day and said, ‘I’m leaving the Beatles.’ And he said, ‘It’s quite thrilling. It’s rather like a divorce.’ And then we were left to pick up the pieces.” – Paul McCartney*
On the off chance that you’ve been living in a cave, Kiwi director Peter Jackson has been taking the mongo-depressing 1970 Let it Be film and reshaping it into a six-hour series. They have been promoting this thing pretty relentlessly for maybe a year now – Twitter, Facebook, trailers – you know, the whole publicity/advertising/promotion scheme.
Why? Two words – cash grab. Let’s face it – Let It Be is a good album but it is literally nobody’s favorite album. Not the public’s, not critics, not even – as far as I can ascertain – the Beatles. For greatness, one goes to Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper, Abbey Road. (Coin toss on the White Album).
As a confirmed Beatlemaniac, I will be front and center for the viewing of this film. In fact, it’s literally the only reason I still have Disney+. (I got it initially to watch Hamilton.) Early reports say that it shows a “happier” Fab Four.
Yeah, somehow I doubt it. I followed this saga in Rolling Stone back in the day – the long delay of what was originally called Get Back, the Apple Records fiasco, the back-and-forth lawsuits, the insulting songs. The only person who still wanted – and seems to still want – the band together was Macca. They were all pretty well sick of the whole thing, each other and – especially – McCartney himself. (“I’ll play whatever you want me to play. Or I won’t play at all if you don’t want me to play. Whatever it is that will please you, I’ll do it.” – George to Paul in Let It Be.)
The lads got themselves stuck in some fucking godforsaken film studio as opposed to their beloved Abbey Road. So this film is as much a record of their dissolution as it is anything else and no amount of reassembling the footage is going to change that fact.
The reason I’m writing today is that the Beatles organization (Paul, Ringo, Yoko, Olivia Harrison) quietly dropped this album on Spotify the other day. It consists of the original album and then a bunch of outtakes, alternate takes, etc.
As mentioned earlier, Let It Be is a good album but not a great one. By 1970, the Beatles were pretty much a spent force and there were plenty of other bands that were pushing the boundaries of where music could go. Maybe the biggest sin of this otherwise entertaining album is that it doesn’t break any new ground.
The good news is that while it was the last released album, Abbey Road is actually their last album. That album – minus the crud known as Octopus’ Garden and Maxwell’s Douchebag Hammer – is a much more fitting final walk-off for the Fab Four.
So how is it? Well, there is a fair amount of in-studio patter and so songs are often named after what one of the guys says. So John says “Morning, everybody. Morning camera.” Then they launch into Take 4 of “Two of Us.”
There’s also one called “I Don’t Know Why I’m Moaning” which Paul says but is really just a minute or so of the guys talking. It’s actually kind of revelatory because it shows how John is trying to explain to the band how Paul’s song is becoming something he doesn’t want it to be.
There’s a “Let It Be” which Paul morphs into a slow “Please Please Me” on piano, and then a couple of alternate takes of other tunes. They play the rooftop version of “Don’t Let Me Down” (one of my favorites) and it’s interesting to hear John and Paul harmonize on this. And it’s really interesting to hear them work on “Gimme Some Truth” which wound up on Imagine.
There’s a couple of tunes that wind up on Abbey Road (Polythene Pam, Bathroom Window, Something) and things that are labeled “Glyn Johns Mix.”
Anyway, you get the idea. This album strikes me as being much like the Beatles Anthology that was released back in 1995 – some good stuff, some demo stuff, etc. But at the end of the day, largely forgettable. (I guarantee you there are “completists” who will buy this CD set because it fills out their collection. And they will listen to it once or twice then never again.)
For me though, I’ll admit it was fun to listen to the outtakes and even more fun to drive around (my favorite way to listen to music) and listen to the original again. Even in their lesser songs, there was a magic that happened whenever the Beatles played together and it’s always enjoyable to hear that. Especially as an album and not as a bunch of disjointed tunes on satellite radio.
For the record, the Get Back documentary airs on November 25, 26, and 27. Hurry the fuck up already.
*Macca’s been on a real run of comments lately. He recently referred to the Stones as a “blues cover band.” Still fighting that fight, Paul? For the record, the first song Jagger/Richards wrote was “As Tears Go By.” I could name an absolute shitload of non-blues tunes by the Stones. Jagger had previously said, “One band is unbelievably luckily still playing in stadiums, and then the other band doesn’t exist.” And at a recent show, snarkily invited McCartney up to do a blues cover.
Hey. Let it be or let it bleed guys. What would Keef say if he were still alive????